Tesla’s Rise Has Inspired a Dozen New EV Rivals
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Elon Musk should be blushing.
In addition to the increased competition from big auto manufacturers, there are also now many venture-backed startups that are now kicking tires within the electric vehicle industry. According to Tracxn, a startup intelligence platform, some of Tesla’s rivals include Faraday Future, NextEV, and Atieva.
This set of companies has raised hundreds of millions from prominent venture capitalists in a bold effort to emulate the success of Tesla, which had its shares skyrocket from $17 to north of $200 since the company’s 2010 IPO.
Faraday Future is possibly one of the more interesting names on this list. Backed by Chinese internet billionaire Jia Yueting, the company is notoriously secretive and hasn’t publicly revealed its CEO. It has however, hinted that its technology could potentially help mount a serious challenge to Tesla. Faraday Future executive Nick Sampson, the former head of vehicle and chassis engineering at Tesla, said that the company’s goal was to “revolutionize mobility the same way the iPhone revolutionized the phone industry”.
The company plans to build vehicles with a Variable Platform Architecture (VPA), which allows for vehicles to be built with multiple motors, along with powertrain configurations that can be customized for specific power, range and driving dynamics. Faraday Future recently broke ground on its $1 billion Nevada factory, aiming to launch its first vehicle for sale in 2017.
NextEV, another EV startup with Chinese connections, has reportedly raised more than $500 million from big names including Sequoia Capital, Tencent, and Joy Capital. Started by William Li, who previously founded the largest provider of car-pricing data to Chinese dealers, the company has a similar vision to that of Faraday Future: it plans to focus on connectivity and infotainment features to take the EV beyond just a form of transportation. To help guide in this plan, NextEV has hired Martin Leach, who previously served as the president of Ford Europe and also the CEO of Maserati.
Lastly, Atieva has made recent ground in the EV market after securing the majority-backing of one of China’s largest automakers. Founded in 2007 by Bernard Tse, who was also originally on Tesla’s Board of Directors, Atieva initially planned to provide monitoring software for electric vehicle battery packs. Today, the company has now reportedly moved towards manufacturing EVs with the vision of “redefining what a car can be by building an iconic new vehicle from the ground up”.
Building an electric car company from the ground up is a daunting task, and many imitators have already failed spectacularly. Fisker Automotive, for example, famously declared bankruptcy in 2013 even after burning through $1.4 billion in funding while losing $35,000 per car.
It’s possible this list may look way different in the near future.
Animation: U.S. Electric Vehicle Sales (2010-19)
This stunning animation visualizes the last nine years of U.S. electric vehicle sales. We also look at who will lead the race in the coming years.
It’s challenging to get ahead, but it’s even harder to stay ahead.
For companies looking to create a sustainable competitive advantage in a fast-moving, capital intensive, and nascent sector like manufacturing electric vehicles, this is a simple reality that must be accounted for.
Every milestone achieved is met with the onset of new and more sophisticated competitors – and as the industry grows, the stakes grow higher and the market gets further de-risked. Then, the real 800-lb gorillas start to climb their way in, making competition even more fierce.
Visualizing U.S. EV Sales
Today’s animation uses data from InsideEVs to show almost nine years of U.S. sales in the electric vehicle market, sorted by model of car.
It paints a picture of a rapidly evolving market with many new competitors sweeping in to try and claim a stake. You can see the leads of early successes eroded away, the increasing value of scale, and consumer preferences, all rolled into one nifty animation.
The Tesla Roadster starts with a very early lead, but is soon replaced by the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, which are the most sold models in the U.S. from 2011-2016.
Closer to the end, the Tesla Model S rises fast to eventually surpass the Leaf by the end of 2017. Finally, the scale of the rollout of the Tesla Model 3 is put into real perspective, as it quickly jumps past all other models in the span of roughly one year.
The Gorilla Search
While Tesla’s rise has been well-documented, it’s also unclear how long the company can maintain an EV leadership position in the North American market.
As carmakers double-down on EVs as their future foundations, many well-capitalized competitors are entering the fray with serious and ambitious plans to make a dent in the market.
In the previous animation, you can already see there are multiple models from BMW, Volkswagen, Honda, Fiat, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, and Chevrolet that have accumulated over 10,000 sales – and as these manufacturers continue to pour capital in the sector, they are likely posturing to try and find how to create the next mass market EV.
Of these, Volkswagen seems to be the most bullish on a global transition to EVs, and the company is expecting to have 50 fully electric models by 2025 while investing $40 billion into new EV technologies (such as batteries) along the way.
The Chinese Bigfoot?
However, the 800-lb gorilla could come from the other side of the Pacific as well.
Source: The Driven
Chinese company BYD – which is backed by Warren Buffett – is currently the largest EV manufacturer in the world, selling 250,000 EVs in 2018.
The Chinese carmaker quietly manufacturers buses in the U.S. already, and it has also announced future plans to sell its cars in the U.S. as well.
How will such an animation of cumulative U.S. EV sales look in the future? In such a rapidly evolving space, it seems it could go any which way.
How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?
It is counterintuitive, but electric vehicles are not possible without oil – these petrochemicals bring down the weight of cars to make EVs possible.
How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?
When most people think about oil and natural gas, the first thing that comes to mind is the gas in the tank of their car. But there is actually much more to oil’s role, than meets the eye…
Oil, along with natural gas, has hundreds of different uses in a modern vehicle through petrochemicals.
Today’s infographic comes to us from American Fuel & Petrochemicals Manufacturers, and covers why oil is a critical material in making the EV revolution possible.
It turns out the many everyday materials we rely on from synthetic rubber to plastics to lubricants all come from petrochemicals.
The use of various polymers and plastics has several advantages for manufacturers and consumers:
- Easy to Shape
- Flame Retardant
Today, plastics can make up to 50% of a vehicle’s volume but only 10% of its weight. These plastics can be as strong as steel, but light enough to save on fuel and still maintain structural integrity.
This was not always the case, as oil’s use has evolved and grown over time.
Not Your Granddaddy’s Caddy
Plastics were not always a critical material in auto manufacturing industry, but over time plastics such as polypropylene and polyurethane became indispensable in the production of cars.
Rolls Royce was one of the first car manufacturers to boast about the use of plastics in its car interior. Over time, plastics have evolved into a critical material for reducing the overall weight of vehicles, allowing for more power and conveniences.
Rolls Royce uses phenol formaldehyde resin in its car interiors
Henry Ford experiments with an “all-plastic” car
About 20 lbs. of plastics is used in the average car
Manufacturers begin using plastic for interior decorations
Headlights, bumpers, fenders and tailgates become plastic
Engineered polymers first appear in semi-structural parts of the vehicle
The average car uses over 1000 plastic parts
Electric Dreams: Petrochemicals for EV Innovation
Plastics and other materials made using petrochemicals make vehicles more efficient by reducing a vehicle’s weight, and this comes at a very reasonable cost.
For every 10% in weight reduction, the fuel economy of a car improves roughly 5% to 7%. EV’s need to achieve weight reductions because the battery packs that power them can weigh over 1000 lbs, requiring more power.
Today, plastics and polymers are used for hundreds of individual parts in an electric vehicle.
Oil and the EV Future
Oil is most known as a source of fuel, but petrochemicals also have many other useful physical properties.
In fact, petrochemicals will play a critical role in the mass adoption of electric vehicles by reducing their weight and improving their ranges and efficiency. In According to IHS Chemical, the average car will use 775 lbs of plastic by 2020.
Although it seems counterintuitive, petrochemicals derived from oil and natural gas make the major advancements by today’s EVs possible – and the continued use of petrochemicals will mean that both EVS and traditional vehicles will become even lighter, faster, and more efficient.
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